Why have coup investigations stalled?

  • 24th December 2005
  • 2005
  • // Display comment count + link

Opposition Leader Mahendra Chaudhry has written a strong letter to the Police Commissioner regarding Police failure to follow up new clues in coup investigations.

Chaudhry expressed concern that the latest disclosure by former coup convict Maciu Navakasuasua of a plot involving Navitalai Naisoro and Konisi Yabaki to blow up Nadi Airport at a time when as Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry was transiting through the airport, has not been taken seriously by the Police.

Navakasuasua had given a 30-page handwritten statement to the Police in Sydney and claimed it had been greatly watered down. Hughes had told the local media there was nothing new in Navakasuasua’s statement … matters revealed had already been dealt with.     

Chaudhry asked whether Police reluctance to take action was due to the fact that certain senior officers known for their sympathy for, and even involvement, in the 2000 coup were deliberately hindering the process of justice.

The full text of the letter is as follows:

“I write to you once again to express my concern at what appears to be inexcusable delays in bringing to justice certain ‘high profile people’ for their complicity in the terrorist mayhem of May 2000.

I refer in particular to names and information released to the Police by Maciu Navakasuasua which have been backed up by statements given by Josaia Waqabaca. These two, convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for their illegal activities connected with the May 2000 coup, have disclosed names of coup plotters and financiers with whom they had personal dealings.

Indeed, Waqabaca has also implicated two senior ministers of the SDL government and has once again mentioned the involvement of Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, currently serving as Fiji’s High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea.

The people of Fiji are entitled to more credible explanation from Police about what is happening to the investigations rather than being fobbed off with comments that much of the information contained in the statements of these two are matters already dealt with by the Police.

This is definitely not the case because Navakasuasua gave his statement to the Police this year and that too after much insistence from me that his statement be obtained to progress the investigations.

It took the Police more than six months to send someone to take Navakasuasua’s statement from the time I initially informed you that he was prepared to provide valuable information to assist the Police bring to justice certain elements who have avoided investigation/persecution so far.

Navitilai Naisoro’s name has come up time and again – is he under investigation by the Police? If so, what is the present status of the investigation into his alleged close involvement in the coup and the destabilization campaign leading to it? What of Watisoni Nata of SAS Ltd. at Nadi Airport? Watisoni is the brother of coup convict Jo Nata

What of the investigations into Isikia Savua and Ratu Inoke Kubuabola? I myself furnished information to the Police regarding these two which certainly provide a prima facie case against both.

I also gave a statement to the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Moses Driver in 2001, about certain businessmen (whom I named) who financed the destabilization activities of the coup plotters. What did DPC Driver do about investigating those named?

As a principal victim of the coup, I am entitled to ask what is going on? I believe there are some very senior officers in the Police Force who were involved in the 2000 coup, as well as the 1987 coups, who are now trying to block the investigations.

Certainly, the current state of inordinate delays are intolerable. The Police have a duty to maintain law and order and to bring to justice all those who break the law and disturb the peace. Police ought to be relentless in their pursuit of those who commit heinous crime against the State and try to hide behind the façade of race and cultural values.

If there are those within the Police Force who are sympathetic to the terrorist and lawless elements behind the 2000 coup, they ought to be identified and removed. They cannot be allowed to tamper with the ongoing investigations and the administration of justice.

Commissioner, as Leader of the Opposition and the principal victim of the 2000 coup, I am very concerned at the fact that the real leaders of the coup and their financiers have not been brought to justice. We all know who these people are. It seems very unfair that they should be allowed to escape the arm of the law because they are either people of standing in society or have very strong political connections.

It is also a pity that investigations appear to have stalled quite noticeably since the departure of former Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Peter Ridgway. This hardly says much for the commitment of the Police Force to the cause of justice, and law and order.

The next general elections are due in less than eight months. We have not yet identified and charged all those complicit in the illegal activities of May 2000 and after. Apart from certain politicians and the former Police Commissioner Savua these include some prominent business executives who financed the coup and the destabilization campaign that preceded it.

It is common knowledge that money for the terrorist acts was collected from the business community. Why has this lead not been followed to date? Navakasuasua and Waqabaca have named Naisoro and Nata as the people who collected from the businessmen and shared it with the two to stage the destabilization campaign.

What more evidence is needed? Then, there is the statement given to the Police by Lt. Col. Viliame Seruvakula in which he is reported to have revealed the names of some financiers.

A concerted effort must be made to ensure that those who have thus far evaded prosecution are investigated, charged and brought to justice before the next general elections. They must be made an example to all those who think they can overthrow a legitimate government and defy the will of the people with impunity.

I am surprised that having sought information from the public, the Police now seem reluctant to act on disclosures that have been made. It was you who complained in the first place that the public were not coming forward with evidence. Yet, when they do, we find that excuses are made to render such evidence unimportant.

Navakasuasua should be brought to Fiji from Sydney by the Police, not the Court, as you have stated in your media statement. The Court is not the investigating authority. It is the Police. Navakasuasua has volunteered to come and give evidence. Why is he not being brought back by the Police? Is someone blocking it?

Commissioner, I hope you will give this correspondence the urgency the subject deserves. Those of us who are in positions of authority have a duty to wipe out the coup culture that has gripped Fiji, has caused so much suffering and pain and has seriously retarded social and economic progress. I look forward to some meaningful and tangible action very soon by the Police.”

The letter was released to the media. Since then Commissioner Hughes has finally called a Press conference where he gave details on the status of coup investigations and said that a number of files have now been forwarded to the DPP’s office for action.